Travel Wish List: Philippine Fiesta Celebrations to See in 2009

It’s said that travel expense, which isn’t a necessity anyway, is the first to get thrown out the window in times of financial crunch. But while the world is no doubt in a financial storm today, it’s not an excuse not to plan the places to see in the Philippines for 2009, especially now that the 2009 long weekends have been declared. Here’s where (or what?) I want to see in 2009, under the fiesta/mardi gras category:

1. Sinulog. – Where: Cebu City. When: January 18, 2009 (Sinulog Grand Parade). The annual Sinulog dance ritual, which is in honor of the miraculous Santo Niño, is held every third Sunday of January. It’s been a long time since bathed in the Sinulog atmosphere, under the trance of a single beat. Here’s the schedule of the grand parade, courtesy of the Sinulog website:

January 18, 2009 (Sunday) : SINULOG GRAND PARADE

4:00 AM  —  Mañanita Mass @Basilica del Sto. Niño
6:00 AM  —  Pontifical mass with His Eminence Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal
9:00 AM  —  Sinulog Grand Parade Carousel Kick Off
7:00 PM  —  Grand Fireworks, Cebu City Sports Center
7:30 PM  —  Street Party Bands, Fuente Osmeña

2. Ati-Atihan. – Location: Kalibo, Aklan. When: January 18, 2009. It’s another feast in honor of the Santo Niño, a fact which make you wish you could be in two places at the same time — the Ati-Atihan is also held on the 3rd Sunday of January, the same time with the Sinulog.

January 17, 2009 — Ati-atihan contest (Tribal and modern groups, Balik-Ati tribes and individually costumed participants dance on the streets to the beat of the drums and lyre in their vibrant and colorful costumes)

January 18, 2009 — Torch Parade and Procession (Ati-atihan groups parading for hours together with their beautifully adorned Sto. Niño caros and devotees carrying Sto. Niño image and bamboo torches that create floods of lights beginning at the town plaza and ending at the Kalibo Cathedral) and Pagpadungog (finale and last hurrah of the three- weeklong festival.) See complete schedule at the Kalibo website.

3. Panagbenga. Venue: Baguio City. When: February 28, 2009 (Grand Street Parade, every last Sunday of the month of February). This is also known as the “Flower Festival“. Panagbenga is a Kankanaey term which means “a season of blossoming, a time for flowering”. Here are other dates of interest for the Baguio Flower Festival ‘Panagbenga’ 2009:

February 28 — Grand Street Parade (Session Road)
March 1 — Grand Float Parade
March 2 –- Session Road in Bloom

4. Pahiyas Festival. Where: Lucban, Quezon. When: May 15, 2009. The Pahiyas Festival is celebrated during the town feast of Lucban, Quezon, in honor of the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro (St. Isidore). It’s known for houses adorned with fruits, vegetables, agricultural products, handicrafts and kiping (a rice-made decoration), be eaten grilled or fried afterwards.

5. Masskara Festival. Where: Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. When: The MassKara Festival is celebrated every third weekend nearest October 19, Bacolod City’s Charter Anniversary (see more of its history here). “MassKara” is a combination of the words “mass” (“many or a multitude of the people”) and “kara” (Spanish for face”). Prominent in the MassKara Festival, including in the street dance competition, are the smiling masks worn by participants.

If I missed a fiesta/mardi gras that’s worth seeing this year, please let me know. We definitely want to travel and see those places. Who knows we might see each other there. Photos and stories will be posted here.


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